Princes of the Universe
Shou Shan is from a powerful mountain clan east of Faerûn called Feng. Her clan has been around for centuries, and are renown for their hunting prowess. Shan is the middle child of Gao, a well-respected hunter in the clan. Being the middle child is never easy, especially not for Shan. Since she was the only daughter, she was mostly ignored. Although no one noticed her, she noticed everything – like Father went out every fortnight for two days on a special hunting trip, but came back with only small games and smelled like alcohol and perfume. Or that some of Mother’s jewellery seemed to disappear every time her older brother came for a visit. Shan kept her mouth shut because these occurrences did not affect her in any way. Her family was merely a group of people she was placed with until she was old enough to leave.
There was nothing especially noticeable about her appearance either – she has the long black hair, bronze skin, and dark eyes of everyone around her. People generally have a hard time telling the Shous apart; but even Shous would have a hard time picking out Shan from a crowd – which suited Shan just fine. She decided a long time ago that if no one will notice her, then she would use it to her advantage. She would slip out of the house at the crack of dawn and would only make an appearance at dinner, when her absence would be noticed…although no one ever noticed the scratches on her face or the remnants of mud just below her cuffs. Shan always took some time to look presentable at dinner – not because she cared what her family thought of her, but to avoid unwanted questions and attention.
These mysterious excursions started when she was 6, when she became lost in the forest. and met an elf named Adran. Finding her ambivalence towards finding her way home amusing, Adran befriended her and taught her Elvish and the ways of the forest. Adran became her only friend, as boys her age did not want the company of girls, and girls preferred dolls and domestic tasks than wandering the woods. He also taught her the art of the longbow and survival.
When Shan was 16, Adran disappeared without warning, as mysteriously as he appeared. Whatever desire she had for companionship and trust in a friend was shattered at that moment. She continued to hone her hunting skills despite his absence, but it was becoming harder since she was approaching marriageable age, and her family began looking for an eligible bachelor that would be a good match to secure more power and wealth. Soon after the process of matchmaking began, Shan disappeared into the woods and never returned.
By the time she was 20, she has gained notoriety for being involved in the trade of exotic animal parts. It was a lucrative business, and Shan had a gift of being able to track down whatever endangered beast one desired. One day, Princess Olhydra, who was famed for her collection of mystical beasts, summoned her. She wanted the horn of a Kylin to add to her collection. Despite knowing that the Kylin is a sacred beast among the Shous, she agreed. As usual, it didn’t take her long to track her target. She lifted her longbow, docked her arrow, aimed, and fired straight into the creature’s heart as Adran had taught her long ago to avoid pointless suffering. Except the Kylin didn’t die immediately. It turned towards Shan and stared at her, and she froze. Moments later, it keeled over on its forelegs and did something Shan had never seen any forest creature do – it cried silver tears. Then, it slumped to its side with a sigh and became motionless. Shan could not move. She suddenly realized she did something horrible and irreversible to something beautiful. She stayed where she was until the stars came out, staring at the corpse of the Kylin. Eventually, she buried the beast under a willow tree and made a vow to destroy the trade of exotic animals.